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I'm trying to figure out the best way to do my water changes for a 90g mbuna tank. I have well water and a water softener that uses salt pellets. My well water is around 25 dgh with a tds of 400 and my softened water is about 0 dgh and has a tds of 500. I'm thinking the most convenient method would be mixing hot softened water with the cold well water when I do water changes. I'm concerned that the sodium in the softened water may be unhealthy for the mbuna. I've been mixing water in a 10g tank with zebra danios and a tetra that I had for over a year and they seem to be doing fine. What do you guys think? Should I continue doing water changes by mixing in softened water that contains 500 tds of sodium?
 

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You could either use a holding tank or do small, frequent water changes so the new colder water would not change the overall tank temp more than a degree or two. Or you could install a hot/cold tap in the house that bypasses the softener.
 

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I'm a math guy. So, I like to find out how out of spec your water change is, so I can offer a pedantic opinion :)

I'm assuming that the tank is 80 degrees. I do this because it's easy, and I hate math. I'm also going to assume your well water is 60 degrees. You said below 60, but I don't know how much below sixty, so... Sixty it is.
You have a 20 degree water/tank differential. If you drain half the tank, and fill it with well water, your tank is going to be 70 degrees, so you're perfectly safe. A 10 degree swing over any length of time is going to be fine for any Mbuna.

If you're still concerned? do two hoses. Python from the sink with warm water, and a garden hose from the well. I do this when needed (I actually always fill my tank with at least one garden hose). If that messes with the parameters too much for hardness, I'd just slowly dump some super hot tap water in to keep the temp relatively constant.

Actually, I would do this once, and then I'd decide that it was a PITA and I'd probably buy an on-demand water heater that has a 110v plug in, and hose barbs on both sides and cost me about $65 from Amazon, and I would just use it to take the cold edge off the hose and change water that way. You could probably find something just like what I'm describing if you went to Amazon and typed in something generic like "110V 3000W Mini Electric Tankless Water Heater Instant HOT Mini Kitchen Water Warmer Instant Hot Water Heater Tankless Shower Kitchen Faucet Kitchen Instant Water Heater (Gold)". :)
 

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I've used softened waters in my African cichlid tanks (110 & 30 gallon) for years without negative effects. On occasion, I use the pre-softener faucet from the front of my home via hose especially on very large water changes. So. Cal water is hard. On initial setup of the tanks, I filled the tanks with the unsoftened water. In my 110 I have 100 lbs of sand and 100 lbs of rocks. My H2O hardness always tests as very hard which I believe is due to the substrate and rocks. The initial years I had Malawi cichlids but the last few I'm 90% Tang. (Fronts, Tropheus, etc). My pH is usually around 7.8 without additives. I rarely test the hardness anymore.
 

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I'm thinking the most convenient method would be mixing hot softened water with the cold well water when I do water changes.
That is the way to go.
At 25 dGH your well water is actually too hard. Not that your fish wouldn't live OK in it, but it would be better diluted to a lower amount. Bear in mind Lake Malawi is dGH 3.5 to 5.5, so a lower level would at least be more 'natural'.
I'm concerned that the sodium in the softened water may be unhealthy for the mbuna.
Shouldn't be all that much sodium in softened water (?). After all, it's still low enough sodium that people can drink the water. As mentioned by posters above, some use straight 'softened' water for Malawi and have no problems, and you would at least be diluting the amount of salt by mixing some straight cold well water.
softened water that contains 500 tds of sodium?
That is 500 tds from all the minerals in the water..... might be predominantly, but not entirely just from sodium. The water softener would have exchanged a calcium and/or magnesium ion for a sodium ion, but tds is a measure of all the ions (including iron).
 
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